Cash Confessional: The Green Swan

Cash Confessional

Hello folks! Thanks for stopping by The Green Swan today. There is an ongoing series that I’ve followed for a while on a local online newsletter titled Cash Confessional. The cash confessional is a volunteer-based, anonymous money-diary where folks track their spending for a week and share all the details. I find it very fascinating to learn how folks of all ages and income levels spend their money. Plus it gives an inside look on the culture of spending and degree of financial literacy folks have.

$850K of Annual Income!

A recent one that caught my attention was a week of spending on a combined $850K income. A huge income (granted the IRS will take its fair share…) that leaves plenty of room for discretionary spending. But I do give these folks kudos for “putting away” $15K to $20K per month. Not sure what “putting away” means, but hopefully they’re investing wisely. They do have rental properties too so maybe that is where the savings is funneled.

Otherwise, the week of spending for the couple amounted to ~$1,750 with nearly a third going toward food. What would also be interesting is to know their rent / mortgage, but I guess that payment didn’t fall within the week.

Let’s Make a Confession

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you realize I give full disclosure on this site. Plus I’m also a very diligent tracker of all things personal finance (spending down to the penny for over a decade…). So pulling back the curtain for a close-up view on one particular week of spending is fairly benign. But I thought it would be interesting to see, to compare with the Cash Confessionals linked above, and for anyone else who would like to join in on the fun.

If you are a reader and want to anonymously publish your cash confessional, email me. If you are a fellow blogger and want to log your own cash confessional, we can start a blog chain (similar to the chain started on The Swan FIRE Prowess Gauge). Simply link back to this original post and all others in the blog chain ahead of you. I’ll also add the ongoing links to this post as they come in. Let’s have some fun!

My Confession

Now it is my turn to have some fun!

Day One: Sunday

Sunday’s are usually pretty relaxing days around the swan nest. With two little ones, no doubt we’re up well before the crack of dawn. We learned long ago (from experience) that Panera doesn’t open until 7 AM on Sunday so we take our time getting ready and out the door.

Breakfast for Lucy, our soon-to-be 4 y.o. and myself consists of a three bagels and a coffee (baby still eating baby things…). Busted…yes we are vegan but we have kept the occasional cream cheese and bagel routine. However, we just use our own vegan cream cheese. Panera, this is my cry out to you to get some vegan cream cheese on stock! $9.73

Lucy’s in-laws were in town the prior week so we still had various leftovers in the fridge to finish up. So lunch was simple and consisted of leftover pizza…and yes it was the vegan kind. We have really enjoyed the Gourmet Veggie take and bake pizza with no cheese. Yes we get looked at funny ordering it with no cheese, but it is very delicious. When we had it fresh with the in-laws, they honestly didn’t even realize it was “vegan” and really liked it!

The boys go down for their nap and Lucy and I try to get some chores done with the basketball game on in the background.

Our grill hasn’t been working lately. Per my brother-in-law’s advice (is it bad to blame him…) I bought replacement burner tubes and drip pan. Unfortunately I had to pay for shipping too since I couldn’t find them on Amazon. Total was $83.40. The embarrassing part, after an hour of working on the grill to install these parts and get it working I realized it was just empty on propane! In my defense, I did check that first but it still felt like it had a fair amount left. So, I disassembled the new parts, reinstalled the old ones and returned it ($14.35 shipping and received $70.95 refund) and bought more propane ($19.99). Go ahead, say what’s on your mind…[Lucy here…what a ridiculous blunder…]

Let’s move on…We usually make a big dinner on Sunday so we have plenty of leftovers through the week. Today we made our enchilada pasta. Beans, corn, onion, lots of peppers, whole grain pasta and enchilada sauce…damn good!

Before going to bed, Lucy made overnight oats for both of us to have the next couple days (oats, bananas, chia seeds, flax seed meal, banana, almond milk, dried cranberries…I think that’s it…also damn good).

Total Spent: $56.52

Day Two: Monday

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go! Breakfast is oatmeal and fruit for the kiddo (oatmeal, flax seed meal, mixed fruit, and cinnamon…and he loves it every day!) and small bowls of cereal and an apple for the wife and I. Cold brew coffee and we’re out the door.

Lucy and I are both serial snack eaters throughout the day. The overnight oats Lucy prepped for us get consumed mid-morning.

Lucy brought leftovers for lunch and I brought a salad to work. Afternoon snacks include nuts with dried fruit, a granola bar, pretzels and a banana.

To avoid having the same thing two days in a row, we cooked some whole grain pasta to have with our Birdseye Protein Pack.

Total Spent: $0.00!

Day Three: Tuesday

We are creatures of habit so hit the repeat button on breakfast.

Lucy ate in her cafeteria today which offers discount pricing. $2

For me…repeat button on lunch and snacks. Call me boring, but since transitioning toward a whole-food plant based diet, I have fallen in love with salads. For the record, it typically consists of spinach and other mixed greens, carrots, grape tomatoes, sliced almonds, usually lentils if cooked / refrigerated over the weekend, usually broccoli and a little Italian dressing with a couple dashes of red pepper flakes. What a perfect concoction, eh?

Dinner: Leftover enchilada pasta. Today is bath night (…for the kids, my weekly bath is Wednesday…) so dinner is always squeezed and quick leftovers always come in handy.

Total Spent: $2

Day Four: Wednesday

Breakfast: Repeat. Although today I had a coffee meetup with an old colleague to catch-up. We went to Dunkin and I got a large black coffee. $2.48

Lucy had a lunch appointment today (paid for by work). She’s so lucky! JW: Repeat.

For dinner tonight we some black bean burgers and reheated some roasted potatoes from the weekend. The black bean burgers were Morningstar brand which are great and convenient since you just pan fry them for a few minutes, but we’ve also made our own version of black bean burgers a number of times which is great too.

Dinner: Every blue moon we will get a meal delivery service. We did Blue Apron for the longest time but since going vegan we switched to a new service called Purple Carrot (not an affiliate link…). I’m not affiliated with them at all and actually I’m not afraid to say I think they are over-priced. We may not use them much more, but I do like trying fun new meals. Meal prep isn’t too complicated and usually only takes 30 minutes and something the fam can do together. Each Purple Carrot box comes with 3 meals, each meal serves 2 but we can usually stretch it for our little one too. $72 

Hmmm…Mezze bowl…

Cash Confessional

Total Spent: $74.48

Day Five: Thursday

Breakfast: Repeat

I actually took a break from my salad routine for a lunch out with another old co-worker. The hard part about switching jobs is losing touch. Fortunately I’m just across the street and manage to run into folks occasionally and have had more coffees and lunches out than normal catching up with colleagues. $8.66

Lucy had lunch with her co-workers too, in her cafeteria (with a nice discount…). $2

Dinner: The second of our Purple Carrot meals. And this is the highlight of the three meals in this box that Lucy and I were most excited about. Creamy Mac N’ Cheese (…cheese-less of course!). We’ll be saving this recipe card to recreate later.

Cash Confessional

Total Spent: $10.66

Day Six: Friday

We woke up to some amazing news today…Lucy and I are an Aunt and Uncle (again)!! My older brother and his wife had a beautiful daughter at 3 in the morning. Six days past due but everyone is healthy and doing great.

I had been waiting for the day so that I could order a personalized gift with her name and birth date. $74.69

Breakfast: Repeat

Lunch: Lucy had another lunch appointment on her employer. I had another fantastic salad.

By Friday it isn’t too uncommon we get a little lazy. Also, it isn’t uncommon that our fridge begins to empty. So dinner we stopped at Qdoba and between the three of us food eaters (baby still eating baby things…) we shared two burrito bowls. $16.78

Total Spent: $91.47

Day Seven: Saturday

Saturday Funday! Like many folks, we live for the weekends. In particular, that is Saturday for us.

For breakfast, the kiddo and I love to make scones together. They are very healthy and delicious and it is a fun bonding activity! I cherish it.

Today we had swim lessons for both boys. We got both boys involved in organized swim lessons at about six months old. They both have a blast and we have fun getting in with them. Although our soon-to-be 4 y.o. has phased out of going in with us and now is on his own with the swim teacher. While this was paid on the first of the month, I’ll include the total of illustrative reasons. $151 for the month.

We still fit in our chores though. On the way to swim lessons we stopped to fill up the car with gas. $30.04

On the way back home from swim lessons we stopped by Walmart to pickup our groceries. Literally, we just picked them up. We put the grocery order in the day before with a scheduled pickup for free. As you can see from the above week, this is the expense that fuels most our meals for the week. $82.89

Lunch: More like a series of snacks today. We all had some sort of a combo between bowls of cereal, hummus wraps (tortilla shells filled with hummus and wrapped up), and a variety of fruit (grapes, apples and oranges).

After naps we got outside for a bit. Today we loaded the car with our eldest son’s bike (he just outgrew his strider bike and now quickly picked up riding a “big boy bike” with peddles!) and went to the nearby park. Our son loves this park with plenty of trails to ride and nice pond to feed the ducks and geese!

Dinner: We made our last Purple Carrot…a black bean enchilada bake!

Cash Confessional

Total Spent: $263.93

Our weekly spend totaled: $499.06

The Breakdown

Food & Drink: $196.54

Transportation: $30.04

Shopping: $121.48

Entertainment/Activities: $151

What we learned:

I’d like to think that Lucy and I are fairly good with our money. We’re good at buying most our weekly food from the grocery store and taking the time to prepare it at home. However, we have our occasional weakness where we succumb to takeout. While we don’t spend willy nilly on our kids, swimming has been the guilty pleasure. Water safety is important to us which the swim lessons do a great job of instilling early. Plus, it’s truly sink or swim with the Swans. My parents live on a lake and my in-laws have a home pool. These lessons are expensive but they are worth it to us. Lastly, we’re blessed with another niece! We’ll never hesitate to open the wallet for such a special occasion!

[Lucy here: “JW, you forgot to mention the grill…”] …Yeah, loud and clear honey.

You can feel free to add your own commentary to our week of spending in the comments below. Don’t be bashful!

Thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan

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10 Comments

    1. As a reader of the local paper’s cash confessional I have always found it so interesting how people spend in such varied manners. I’m sure folks would love it if you entered the confessional!

  1. Great concept! Afraid we don’t track our spending (GASP!). Rather, we automated our savings (currently ~50%) and freely spend whatever’s leftover. It’s worked for us for decades, so I don’t think it’ll change at this point.

    For retirement, we’re replicating the process. We’re “automating” a paycheck via bi-weekly transfers from a MMF to checking, and know we’re free to spend. We also have a “reserve” which we’ll hold on the side for the “expected unexpected” items. Will be interested to see how others spend, but afraid we won’t be joining the blog chain due to our approach.

    1. You don’t track your spending!! Jk jk

      Nonetheless, as a result you may have some hidden insights buried into your spending habits. Let me know if you change your mind! Thanks Fritz.

  2. Love it!

    I spent $60 over the weekend at the grocery store, mostly on chicken tenders because they were on sale at half price. WOOOT!

    I’m stocked for the next few months on chicken lol!

  3. Great post, JW. I enjoyed getting a peak into your plant-based lifestyle. I am a big fan of salads for lunch too. Super healthy, delicious and pretty easy to prepare in advance.

    1. You can’t beat a nice salad. And you’re right, they are pretty easy to throw together! I used to be intimidated by them not knowing what should go in it but even a simple salad is great.

  4. Hey, JW. Mrs. Groovy and I track our spending, but do so on a monthly rather than weekly basis. So far this year, we’ve been averaging a little under $2,500 total spending per month. A lot of those costs are fixed, of course (property taxes, insurance, utilities, HOA, etc.). It would be interesting to see exactly what we spend for things that aren’t automatically withdrawn from our checking account. Thanks for the confessional, my friend. And congratulations on the new arrival to the Swan clan. I’m sure she’s a cutie. Cheers.

    1. I think it’s fascinating how the local paper has begun these cash confessionals. People can spend money on so many things for all sorts of reasons!

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